April: the cruellest month - or so said T S Eliot. It’s certainly among the most confusing. Last weekend, which was late March, we were basking in summer warmth and I had to take supplies of water to the allotment to save myself from dehydration; today, a cold northerly has brought rain, which, over the past few hours has turned to snow. Ten inches in Scotland, we hear; a ‘blanket’ in Northumberland, according to a text message from my brother; and here in Durham? Well, when I went to look across the road at the paddock my view was obscured by this:
It’s only just started to settle, but it’s been sticking to walls and roofs for an hour or so:
I dare say the media will treat it as another apocalyptic event, and I am prepared to admit that it is a little unusual, but that’s as far as I’ll go. There aren’t many Aprils here without a bit of wintry weather. And I am reminded that last year in Nebraska, I was greeted by two blizzards within a fortnight of moving into the red house. I am also reminded that in mid-April 1966 - no, let’s get this right, it was the 14th - we had a day that started out just like today, grey and cold with a little light rain, and produced four inches of snow. Now that was truly extraordinary, because I was living in the deep south at the time (outside London, that is, not in Alabama).
Launch day for my first e-book draws ever closer. The Chainsaw has emailed me today to announce that he has finally completed the Herculean task of fitting all 143 photographs into the text, and is now working on the captions. The Chainsaw is a fantastic worker, but a fastidious one. It goes with accuracy, and we accept it. I too am fastidious, when it suits me to be so. Phil has come up with a number of queries such as, did I know that the grasshopper, which I snapped in glorious close-up, is missing a leg? (To tell the truth, I hadn’t, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was missing a head shortly after the picture was taken.) And was I aware that my caption for the picture of the hay crop under the center pivot is inaccurate? How so, I ask. Well, it says ‘Ready to start haying,’ when the job’s clearly half done already.
As he himself would say, 'Ahem.'
Meanwhile, I have come up with a final and definitive title, a strapline, a blurb and a set of acknowledgements. Tomorrow, the cover (he says, hoping that he will awake and find that a dazzling, stand-out design has emerged from his sub-consciousness….)
But before all that I have a tense evening lined up, hunched over my radio: York City are playing down in Wales (Newport) and hoping for another three points to cement their play-off place. Kick-off in five minutes.